Takin' About a Revolution (or Not)

by Anthony Kaufman
March 14, 2006 5:24 AM
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The reviews for "V for Vendetta" are beginning to circulate, some pro-, some against-, but there's no doubt from either side that the movie is one of the most unabashedly political, pro-anarchist cinematic pipe bombs to be lobbed against the Bush-Cheney regime. Whatever the filmmakers may say about the movie being a cautionary tale about totalitarian regimes anywhere in the world, there is little mistaking the year 2020 London of "Vendetta" as an obvious stand-in for the ultraconservative U.S. of the present and very-near-future.

LA Times columnist Patrick Goldstein examines "Vendetta" and the next wave of political narratives in his Big Picture column, "Revolutionary ideas are a foot" today. In addition to "Vendetta," Goldstein highlights Universal's "American Dreamz," "a madcap political satire that imagines a bumbling Arab terrorist" who becomes "the surprise hit of an 'American Idol'-style singing show."

It all appears revolutionary and thought-provoking, and after seeing "Vendetta", I can't say I've ever seen anything so subversive to come out of Hollywod (notwithstanding, perhaps, "Fight Club").

But then again, Variety's Elizabeth Guider suggests a contradictory trend in which self-censorship is on the rise. In a muddled article published over the weekend, she highlighted a few instances that may be a sign of equally strong pressures towards conservatism in the entertainmen business:

- "A New York theater decided last week to 'postpone' a play about real-life American pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003. The decision by the New York Theater Workshop, which was attributed to complications with the lead actors' schedules, has prompted a barrage of e-mail messages accusing the theater managers of cowardice."

- "The Hollywood studio niche labels have all passed on Michael Winterbottom's accomplished drama-doc 'The Road to Guantanamo,' apparently because the depiction of American soldiers in Iraq is one of dunderheads rather than heroic do-gooders."

- The pending Christian backlash over Sony's upcoming "The Da Vinci Code."

Though she also cites the lackluster box office receipts of "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World," I'd say that's more a result of Albert Brooks' comedic misfiring than some right-wing trend.

But worse and even more disturbing, if true, she writes, "Those in the media and entertainment biz are increasingly second-guessing their own creative choices, declining to take on particularly risky subjects, toning them down, qualifying them in some way, or postponing them until whatever wave of outrage subsides."

Guider says the situation is even worse overseas. "While few wanted to go on the record, in Europe there's a general feeling that subsidies for provocative film and TV projects will in the future be scrutinized more closely so as not to arouse the ire of any ethnic or religious group."

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